Want to make a new flower bed but hate the idea of having to dig up all that grass and dirt? Then you are going to love this sneaky trick using newspapers and water!
We found this gem in Canadian Gardening thanks to author Stephen Westcott-Gratton. Stephen suggests starting your garden in early spring so that your new flower bed will be ready to plant in just 60 days. Check out his step by step instructions below!
Step 1: Begin by determining the perimeter and shape of your new bed, then mow the grass within the area to a uniform height of roughly 2 inches. Next, spread newspapers over the mown grass (be sure to use newsprint-glossy paper doesn’t break down nearly as quickly). It’s essential to wet the newspapers thoroughly to speed up decomposition, so hose down each layer as it’s applied until it becomes a soggy mat, 1 inch thick.
Step 2: To further speed up decomposition, cover the soggy paper with materials high in nitrogen, such as blood meal and composted manure. Dust the wet newspaper with blood meal, just enough to make it adhere, then add a layer of composted manure about 1 ½ inches deep. The manure helps retain moisture, weighs down the newspapers and supplies the beneficial micro-organisms vital for healthy, productive soil.
Step 3: To “seal” the concoction, finish off the area with five to seven centimetres of chunky hardwood mulch. This will hold the bottom layers in place and discourage weed seeds from germinating while the newspapers decompose. Once sealed, thoroughly re-water the entire area.
Step 4: For the next 45 to 60 days, keep the area moist by spraying the mulch with water; if it’s allowed to dry out completely, decomposition comes to a crashing halt. After about a month and a half, test the soil: Use a trowel to dig several small holes in different places in the bed. If the newspaper has disappeared and the grass below has been suffocated, then it’s time to plant.
Step 5: When planting the bed, try not to disturb the soil; it’s best to scoop out a plug of earth just large enough to slip in a plant, then gently replace the mulch around it. Within two to three years, the reclaimed newspaper bed will look as if it’s been there for decades—and without having removed a single blade of grass.
I cannot wait to get this project started! This is SO much easier than having to dig out a whole new flower bed. Plus now I can say goodbye to all the husband’s old newspapers!
credit: Canadian Gardening
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